Residential treatment has been a challenging learning experience for this social work student. The recovery effort of so many struggling with addiction issues is a topic of national interest and local importance. The recovery community supports each other and forgives one another when one falls short and is there and ready to help their fellow members when they are ready to take a sometimes unsure and sometimes ambivalent step into recovery.

One powerful example of residential treatment is Tree Line Recovery Center, a residential treatment facility operated by Century Health in Findlay. It serves 12 brave people at a time as they try to remake their lives and recover brain health.

Treatment and recovery are not about bad people trying to get good, but sick people trying to get well. Addiction is a chronic, progressive and fatal brain disease. It changes the brain chemistry and alters the reward system in the brain. Dopamine, a hormone that our brain naturally makes and controls the pleasure center of the brain, simply stops being produced naturally. The addict becomes dependent on the drug when dopamine is only released under the drug’s influence.

It is important that family members and friends of an addicted person do not enable the loved one. It sounds insane, but every time you cushion or take away a harmful consequence from a victim who is chemically dependent, you only deprive him or her of the chance to face their “bottom” and see their problem.

Lastly, relapse does not have to be a part of recovery, but sometimes it is. Relapse, a one- or several-time return to use, is dangerous and can deter a chemically dependent person from seeking help due to shame. Relapse can be therapeutic if the addict lives through it.

I have never experienced addiction in my life nor have I been exposed to addiction until this internship, which opened my eyes to the recovery community along with “survive and learn.” Honesty about what caused the relapse and identifying the triggers that contributed to the relapse need to be explored — either in group or individual therapy. Both are available in residential treatment. What is going to be different now? How?

This internship opportunity opened my eyes to the recovery community and the powerful work that they do together, one day at a time.

Moss is a bachelor of social work candidate at Bowling Green State University on track to graduate in August. He recently passed his state exam and completed his bachelor’s level field seminar at Century Health’s Tree Line, a residential substance abuse treatment facility in Findlay.